James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert R. Livingston, 22 November 1801

From Robert R. Livingston

Nantes 22 November 1801

Dear Sir

I arrived this evening from L’Orient at this place, I have yet seen nobody here from whom I could collect any sort of information of what is doing at Paris.

At L’Orient I met with Genl. Desfourneaux who is going with the armament that sails from that place for St. Domingo.1

He told me that it was probable that either Adet or Mr. De Puissay (who was Aid to the Marquis La Fayette & his fellow prisoner) would be appointed Minister to America—the latter was the most probable. Adet you know. The other gentleman has been settled ever since his liberation in New Jersey near New York & is married to the daughter of Mr. Dupont de Nemour’s wife2 (Dupont is an inhabitant of N. York). His political character you know—he is on intimate terms with one of the Consuls to whom he has given me a verry friendly letter.

As I know the President has some anxiety on this subject I made it my business to get the earliest information on that head. I think from what I can learn that neither of the gentlemen he objected to will be appointed.

I this day met Mr Benezez3 on his way to Brest to sail for St. Domingo as Prefect this must necessarily bring the business to an issue with Toussaint, especially as Genl. Le Clerc4 who is brother in law to Bonaparte commands the armament which will consist of 40000 men.

I mentioned in my last (a duplicate is enclosed) that I found Mr. Vail in possession of the consulate at L’Orient, I have since learned from him that he was appointed by the Consul at Bourdeaux 8 years since & has ever continued to act under that appointment. I sincerely wish he may recieve one from the President—he is much respected there & has been a verry zealous advocate for our Merchants against the french Captures—he is a firm republican in his politics & wealthy. If an appointment should have gone to the gentleman I mentioned or any other, I think it my duty to say it should be recalled, as the office can not be better filled than by Mr. Vail & the removal of him would be an ill recompense for his services. If the President should in compliance with my wish chuse to give an appointment to Mr. Paterson perhaps that to the republic of the seven Islands in the Medeterranean5 would suit him & be of use to the public, at least so far as to bring us better acquainted with that interesting part of the World in a litterary point of view & with which some commercial connection May be formed—its fruit & wine would sell readily in America & perhaps some of our commodities Might be given in exchange with advantage. I am Dear Sir with the most respectful Attachment yr. Most. Obt. Hbl. Sert.

Robt R Livingston

Index Entries